I worked with both horses today, and both rides were excellent. Now that it's November, I'm trying not to let any good weather riding day get away from me, since it won't be long until the late fall/winter weather closes in. Today was beautiful - sunny, low 50s, not as much wind as Sunday - almost a perfect late fall riding day.
I tied Pie and groomed and tacked him. When I got him out of the pasture, I found he had a gash on the inside of his upper right leg - about 5 inches long and bleeding some. It looks like someone kicked him - I have my suspicions about who it was (Scout, I'm thinking of you!). The wound was more than superficial but not bad enough to require stitches, and he was walking sound and seemed unbothered. I put some Nolvasan antiseptic ointment on it and later some Swat to keep the insects at bay (we seem to still have some insects - I guess the frost we had wasn't cold enough). He was easy to catch - this issue has completely gone away, and our p.m. barn lady commented this evening that she also caught him easily. I've been working with him on picking up and holding up his feet, and he's doing much better - I do this at least 2x per day and I think within a couple of days he'll be just fine about it.
Today I rode him in my Rodrigo close contact saddle which seems to fit him pretty well (it was Maisie's saddle and he's got the same withers and back angle she had, although he's a bit narrower in the the barrel). We experimented with some bits - first I tried him in the Rockin S snaffle - he didn't seem to like it much. Then we tried the Mylar ported D (without hooks) - that seemed to suit him better which made sense due to his large tongue. I also think bitting will be somewhat of an issue with him until he gets his teeth done (remind self to call dentist again).
All the other horses were still out in the pasture when we rode. We went on a couple of short trail rides - this is the first time I've taken him out on his own. We went several hundred yards around the pastures, including passing the gelding herd. He was great and willing to do what I asked. Then we went on another short loop toward the farm and up the hill behind it and back down - he goes uphill and downhill using himself very well and evenly. No problems. Although he was very alert and interested in everything, he remained calm and walked on a loose rein both going and coming. He only called once when we were near the barn. We'll take a somewhat longer ride tomorrow I think.
Then we worked in the arena a bit. I had done some preliminary softening work - backing in hand with the bridle - before getting on. I always like to do this first in-hand with a horse I don't know well to be sure there aren't any major issues and to make sure the horse knows what I want before I get on and try it from the saddle. He picked it up pretty quickly, although I had to adjust my hands to a wider position so he didn't misinterpret my ask as a request for a lateral movement. Then we trotted a few circles and serpentines on a loose rein - he neck-reins well - I didn't want to do more because of his cut.
Then I got Dawn out and rode her - this time bareback. I've given up for the moment on saddles - I can pad up the dressage saddle with washclothes and other improvisations so it basically fits, but then I feel like I'm perched way above her and that doesn't feel right and affects my hand position too - I have to hold my hands too low to maintain a proper contact. She's significantly downhill and that makes every saddle I've tried a non-starter. I'm going to visit some saddle shops and see if there's anything that might work, and will also work on her measurements in case I go with a custom Black Rhino.
Dawn was fuzzy and warm, which was pleasant to ride. She was very alert and forward - we worked some in the arena and around the barn. We did a fair amount of trot work in short bursts so she didn't build momentum. She was very cooperative, although reactive if I so much as touched her sides with my legs. It was a day to ride with thoughts only - Dawn has been a good teacher for me on this. I'm fortunate that Pie is also very sensitive - no dullness has been trained in - although he's not reactive like Dawn, just responsive.
A lovely horse day to start out November!